I’ve been spending a bit of time analysing hits produced / written by Max Martin since I’ve discovered that Cool For The Summer was producer by the genius. I’d have to say he probably has a slight edge over Rick Rubin as my favourite producer ever. I know it’s definitely the melodies that really hook me in. I’m not sure if it’s an nostalgic thing.
I remember when I was 8 years old I LOVED ‘It’s My Life’ By Bon Jovi, I remember always singing it in the house. I didn’t even know the words, I just made them up but I was obviously singing the melody right cause my dad heard me singing it aloud one day and he’s like, the words actually go…. “This ain’t a song for the broken-hearted…” etc. It’s funny that I even remember that but obviously that’s where the song takes me whenever I hear it – year of 1999, 7 Agaton St, Hamersley. Haha! Now that I think about it, I can probably elaborate on my entire childhood just by referencing Max Martin’s work.
My fascination for pop music in particular definitely started in 2000 when the boy I had a crush on sang ‘Bye Bye Bye’ and ‘It’s Gonna Be Me’ by *NSYNC in front of the class and I was just so amazed… not at his performance but at the song. I thought to myself, I need to find out who that band is. So when Christmas came around that year, when my Auntie took my sister and I for Christmas shopping, all I asked for was an *NSYNC album, luckily for me, ‘No Strings Attached’ was doing pretty well at the time. I fell so in loooove with *NSYNC that I wrote letters to them and that I refused to play Backstreet Boys ’cause back then you had to choose one band out of the two.
I remember looking through the album sleeve of ‘No Strings Attached’… Jive Records, Rami Yacoub, Teddy Riley, Richard Marx, and off course Max Martin – these were the names that were constantly credited.
My sister during my *NSYNC phase funnily enough had Britney Spears playing. It’s kinda funny, looking back on this, Max Martin was dominating our CD players and music tastes. Something I’m only aware of now that I’ve done my research.
Obviously as I grew up, I conformed to the pressures of being a teenager and ventured out to different music genres. I never really fell in love with any genre like the way I did with pop music. Everyone knew that I loved Nirvana but didn’t listen much to Pearl Jam and the likes. I loved Marilyn Manson but I didn’t listen to Slipknot, Murderdolls or Korn or any of those bands. And I also loved The Doors but I didn’t pay much attention to The Rolling Stones or The Beatles. And off course I admired 2pac but never got into Biggie, or Jay Z, or Nas the same way I was into 2pac. For me, pop music has just been so consistent.
The only time I probably wasn’t listening to radio friendly music was between 2008-2010. And if I did, it would’ve been very minimal. I became a part of that majority that had tuned into independent music. But even the albums and the sounds I had fallen in love during those years, it was still the melody that mattered the most to me. Sarah Blasko’s ‘As Day Follows Night’, her most pop formulated album to date. Manners by Passion Pit. West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum by Kasabian, also there most pop album to date. It’s Happening by LCD Sound System, It’s Blitz by Yeah Yeah Yeahs… Ugh, the list goes on. They were all pop formulated albums to me. They weren’t produced or written by Max Martin but it’s safe say that by then, due to listening to so much of Martin’s work growing up, my listening had been moulded to a certain way. It had accustom to certain melodies with particular intervals which I describe “feels like home” or “it really hits home”. And this is when I knew there was a formula to crack.
So, maybe for the past year, not really by choice but because every year I go through a mainstream music phase where I tune to commercial radio and tune out of Triple J. Since the start of the year, I haven’t been able to tune out of commercial radio because there’s always a new brilliant melody that is sucking me in. Max Martin is just so fucking consistent. And if it’s not him, it’s Dr Luke, Benny Blanco, Stargate or Rick Rubin. I’m just amazed that even now, there are still so many amazing melodies being sung. Like, HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?!?! This is when I think about how much music blows my mind away. It really does.
Anyway, before I lose track of the topic of this post. I just wanted to share my favourite songs produced / written by Max Martin. In no particular order…
Cool For The Summer – Demi Lovato
Boy oh boy. I actually cannot get enough of this song. I was on the treadmill for 40 minutes the other day and I had this on repeat the whole time. As if being on a treadmill wasn’t boring enough, I had this song on repeat. It wasn’t boring for me though. This is what I consider a perfect pop song – the lyrics are very, very naive and the melody is just… And personally I think Demi Lovato is so hot in the film clip. That chorus… Amazing.
Blank Space – Taylor Swift
Another recent one! Can’t go past this one by Taylor Swift, this made my top 50 list. Again, just another perfect song. Like, to people the lyrics are so corny and crap and maybe a bit far fetched, things you obviously wouldn’t say aloud but that’s what I actually love about pop music. The lyrics may not resonate with you but it still hooks you in ’cause of it’s melodies. The power of popular music, yes!
Can’t Feel My Face – The Weeknd
Sticking with the newies, Can’t Feel My Face by The Weeknd. Ugh. What else can I say?! Just another perfect pop song. You can tell Max Martin had something to do with this one. An obvious technique in music is using ‘her’ as a metaphor and clearly Abel is referring to substance abuse but again, the lyrics are just so extreme and naive – “And I know she’ll be the death of me but at least we’ll both be numb…”
Roar – Katy Perry
Who the fuck doesn’t enjoy this song? It’s one of those feel-good ones. It’s hard not to enjoy it. But again… another perfect song and you know why, haha. Corny lyrics and amazing melody. There’s a familiarity with all of Max Martin’s work. Too often people say, “oh it all sounds the same.” It all sounds the same because producers have their own style and trademark. You listen to an entire album, the whole thing will “sound the same”. Except for Thriller by Michael Jackson.
…Baby One More Time – Britney Spears
Alright, by now you’d know what all these songs have in common.
I Want You Back – *NSYNC
Larger Than Life – Backstreet Boys
I can hear Daft Punk in this.
Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) – Backstreet Boys
And another by BSB.
I Knew You Were Trouble – Taylor Swift
Bang Bang – Jessie J x Ariana Grande x Nicki Minaj
Style – Taylor Swift
Always. Taylor Swift makes beautiful pop music.